Some of the most difficult eBook research statistics to verify are the market share numbers for the various online retailers, in particular Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. Late last year there were reports that eBook market share for the three was 55%, 15% and 14% respectively. Then this spring Apple self-reported a 20% market share. Barnes & Noble had been claiming a 25% share but that number was also self-reported and then the Nook division had a poor showing this past holiday season.
Why is this important to self-publishers? Because it helps us focus our sales and marketing efforts on the sales channels that deliver the highest return on our investments of time and money. When the writer is the publisher it is about maximizing your marketing efforts.
This is why I found it interesting that respondents to our 2013 eBook Self-Publisher Survey reported 85% of their eBooks sales came from Amazon. Apple and Barnes & Noble came in at 2% and 4% respectively. It seems that for smaller publishers—those with 1-5 books, the core of our survey respondents—sales via Amazon represent the majority of revenues.
Other findings seem to reinforce this reliance on the dominant retailer:
- Amazon leads as a source for online book reviews at 84%. For those looking for a counterweight it doesn’t help that Goodreads, a new Amazon subsidiary, was second with 9% of reviews.
- Small publishers are also big users of KDP Select with 71% of respondents using the marketing program for at least one 90 day period. But reflecting the ambivalence of giving away your eBook for free, almost one fourth of those using KDP Select did not use their 5 free promotion days.
The survey was conducted between August 30 and September 24, 2013 and there were 307 respondents. The results were reported at the Publishers & Writers of San Diego meeting on September 28th.
In addition to the slides below (also available here on Slideshare) we are publishing a treasure trove of 240 narrative comments organized by size and genre. It is insightful reading for both new and experienced self-publishers.
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